After our grand entry in Essaouira (i.e. being stuck in the middle of the harbour and becoming the daily entertainment for residents and tourists alike) we soon left our embarrassment behind and met the locals on more congenial terms. While Sparrow befriended the numerous stray dogs, cats and camels on the beach (alright, she was more interested in their droppings) Pat and I were soon besieged by the vendors of the countless little stores lining the narrow alleys of the Medina. I must admit, between all the bric-a-brac and the omnipresent sunburnt tourists we did feel a little bit forlorn, and where about to turn our backs to this too-busy harbour town, when the captain of the coastguard boat, our neighbour in the harbour, invited us to dinner at his place. After accepting the gracious offer we were delighted to find ourselves in an amazing traditional house with swallows winging through the open courtyard! We had a great time, a delicious dinner and as a bonus learned how to cook traditional Tajine, a great addition to our growing recipe book.
When the weather forecast predicted a few calm days we decided to head for an anchorage further south. A local diver had confirmed that around Cape Tafelney we’d find some suitable sites for conducting some more reef life survey dives. However, once we slipped into water we soon discovered that not only was the visibility less than two meters, but we also failed to find any reef. Quite frustrated we paddled back to our boat and heaved our heavy equipment back on board.
While Pat was still in the dive gear he figured that he may as well check out the bottom of the yacht. We had been losing power under motor recently and thought there was a chance our propeller had caught one of the countless fishing nets encountered along the coast, but when Pat resurfaced from his inspection the news were much worse. For some incomprehensible reasons two of our three propeller blades had simply disappeared! Of course this does not only render the propeller close to ineffective, but also places a huge stress on the engine … alas, the first major breakdown since we left Iceland!
To get out of our gloomy mood we decided to take our dinghy for a visit ashore. The only route to land was via some big, breaking waves crashing upon the beach of a picturesque fishing village – and of course our tiny outboard was not strong enough to escape the swell! Before I knew what happened I was washed out of the dinghy and found myself flailing in the surf. Well, at least now we know that our dodgy Spanish life jacket inflates when you find yourself under water! Sparrow was likewise unimpressed by the sudden immersion, but fortunately the beach was close and soon all three of us scrambled ashore with the flooded boat in tow, earning a few funny looks from the locals. We later watched as they pulled their small fishing boats up at the same beach in a much more graceful manner … oh well.
To warm our soaked selves we went for a stroll up the hill. While I scrambled on all fours trying to follow Pat and Sparrow up the steep slopes I discovered that the whole terrain was covered in fossils. As Pat had always dreamed of discovering a dinosaur, we spent the next few hours turning every small rock upside down. Although dinosaurs were not amongst the fossilized fauna, we did find some small seashells, brachiopods and snail shells – finally some sea life despite our unsuccessful diving attempts!
After a couple of nights at this anchorage the weather turned windier. While standing on deck in the raising swell and contemplating our onward route with our broken propeller in mind, we were suddenly startled by a big blowing sound to starboard – then we could hardly believe our eyes when a big, lone male orca surfaced just meters from our boat! The closest encounter I ever had with this deadly hunter!
A very uncomfortable and bumpy night later we finally pulled up the anchor and set our sails to head further south again – next stop: Agadir.